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December 3, 2011

Movie Review: Best Worst Movie (2010)

A smiling dentist named George Hardy starts his day with a protein shake. He gets off to work, where he's seen as more of a friend than a boss. Everyone in his small Alabama town loves his personality and his vibrancy, including his ex-wife. He helps the local kids who can't get dental care, and he's just a really happy and confident guy. What most of his neighbors don't realize is that George has an interesting bit of personal history. He was co-star of one of the worst movies ever made.

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Hardy plays father to Michael Stephenson, the real star of the film. Stephenson thought he would be a star, until he saw the movie one Christmas morning. He knew immediately that this was a bad movie. So did Hardy and many of the other stars once they saw it, and they all saw their acting dreams go up in smoke. Almost two decades later, Stephenson started to see something happen. Troll 2 was becoming a cult phenomenon.

Troll 2 is a bad movie, plain and simple. I caught it once on a channel called This, which is a sub channel if you have a digital converter box here in Phoenix. I had never seen the first movie, but I figured it really couldn't be anything that would be hard to figure out. It turned out that the sequel wasn't really even a sequel. It was originally a separate movie titled Goblin, but it somehow got a name change and an attachment to a previous horror film. Either way, it took less than five minutes for this movie to reel me in.

As we follow the film's stars, we see that most of them understand that what they are dealing with is campy crap that somehow found a following. They get that this is to be watched as a goof. The Italian couple who wrote and directed the film don't ever seem to get it, and it somewhat reminded me of my conversation with Tommy Wiseau, director of The Room. While Tommy acts like he gets it, I really don't think he ever does. I get the same feeling with director Claudio Fragasso.

Another person who doesn't seem to get it is Margo Prey. She play's Stephenson's mother, and she may be the worst actor in the movie. She thought that the movie was wonderful and that it was a great story about people. She seemed very vacant and distant the entire time. It was creepy and sad, and reminiscent of many of the actors I've seen on the true independent level. There's no recognition of the fact that she will never have a real acting career. Another sad moment is watching the usually jovial Hardy become frustrated with a lack of audience at a few conventions. He had gotten so used to packed house screenings that his ego seemed to get the better of him.

There are many fun moments in the film. My favorite parts have to be the reenactments by the actors in the actual house where the movie was filmed. In doing this (CHC) and working on other nerd-centric projects, I've been around the kind of crazy fandom that a movie like Troll 2 gains, and it's always fascinating to see the lengths people go to in order to honor the things they love. The obsession is amazing, and I guess it's something we can all relate to. I really enjoyed Best Worst Movie. It's another in a recent group of documentaries about people who are a little off, but those are the most fun people to watch. I laughed out loud many times during the film, and I felt like I was having fun right along with everyone involved.

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